Act 1 (An Overture)
A small bedroom in the home of Sam Parris, Salem, Massachusetts, in the fall of the year 2020.
As the curtain rises, Sam Parris is kneeling beside a bed. He holds a brochure to the Norman Rockwell Museum. His daughter, Betty Parris, a teenager, lies in bed inert. Gatorade and Advil are on her nightstand.
Parris is weeping, rocking back and forth.
PARRIS: Fall foliage… fall foliage…
Abigail and Tituba, other teens in the multi-family quarantine pod, enter the bedroom.
PARRIS: Abigail, what have you done? You’ve broken social distancing guidelines and now Betty has COVID! Our quarantine pod is supposed to go to the Berkshires this weekend.
ABIGAIL: She doesn’t have COVID! We’ve followed all of the pod rules, I swear. We were just up late. I think Betty is just… uh… a little tired.
PARRIS: I don’t believe you! You girls got manicures, didn’t you? Let me see your hands. I’m calling the Putnams and the Proctors. Get in the car. We’re all going to crowd ourselves into John Proctor’s living room to hash this out, because that’s a very natural way to handle conflict resolution.
ABIGAIL: We didn’t violate quarantine. We were doing witchcraft in the woods. Spells, rituals, dancing, all that. But we were outside, wore masks, and stood 6 feet apart.
PARRIS: You lie, Abigail! If she’s not sick, then why does she still not stir even though it is already noon?
ABIGAIL: I’m telling you, she’s fine. It was just some light witchcraft. We thought we could destroy remote high school with curses. Tituba taught us authentic Haitian Voodoo!
TITUBA: Don’t be such a poseur, Abigail. You bought that poppet of Zoom CEO Eric Yuan on Etsy. I’m from Vermont, by the way.
ABIGAIL: (takes out her phone) I have proof. See? Here’s the severed goat head. Here we are naked, drenched in blood, illuminated by the light of the moon. Notice it’s just me, Betty, and Tituba. All pod members and COVID-free.
PARRIS: (sighs with relief) This better be true. I need to see that fall foliage, or I’m going to snap. I have a recipe for mulled wine. I can’t let this incident stand between me and leaf-peeping. This year is killing me. GODDAMMIT, I NEED TO UNWIND!
ACT 2 (Suspicions mount)
The Putnam, Parris, and Proctor families gather at the home of John Proctor. A word about the Putnams. Thomas Putnam thinks Sam Parris is a total square, referring to him frequently as “human Ambien.” Thomas and his wife Ann vie for the master suite at the cabin in the Berkshires.
PUTNAM: I hear Betty broke quarantine. Too bad… we’re really going to miss you guys at the cabin…
PARRIS: The girls say they were just doing a little conjuring in the woods. We all remember what it was like to be young and dabbling in the dark arts.
PUTNAM: If Betty is sick, your family stays home. That’s the rule. Ann and I can take the main suite.
Betty arrives wearing a tank top that says WAP — WITCH ASS PAGAN.
BETTY: Why is everyone gathered here in this tiny room? I didn’t break quar. I drank nine White Claws and invoked the spirit of Satan. Satan wore a mask. We were really responsible.
PARRIS: That’s a relief! I won’t cancel our tickets to Hancock Shaker Village… Hey, wait a minute. Why is John Proctor looking so youthful?
JOHN PROCTOR: I look the way anyone would look after six months of strictly adhering to the rules set forth by this quarantine pod.
PUTNAM: No, Sam is right. You’re suspiciously handsome. You’re 54 years old, and I don’t see a single gray hair on that head.
ELIZABETH PROCTOR: He just has good genes. I cut his hair myself, I swear it!
A word about the teens. They do not want to go to the Berkshires, having had recent success conjuring the devil for personal gain.
ABIGAIL: (stands quickly and points at John) I SAW JOHN PROCTOR AT THE HAIR SALON!
TITUBA: (stands and points at John) I SAW JOHN PROCTOR AT THE HAIR SALON!
BETTY: (stands and points at John) I SAW JOHN PROCTOR AT THE HAIR SALON!
PUTNAM: John, why can’t you just admit you got your hair dyed?
JOHN PROCTOR: Because it is my name! I cannot have another in this life! I have given you my deposit on the cabin; leave me my name!
PUTNAM: Dude, calm down. Just go get a COVID test and isolate. You can meet us there.
ELIZABETH PROCTOR: Maybe we should cancel this trip. It seems like trust is disintegrating, and perhaps we should address the fact that our teenagers killed a goat in the woods.
ACT 3 (The Berkshires)
The pod has decided, fuck it, they’re going to the Berkshires. They really need to unwind.
PARRIS: I hope you guys like hot spicy alcohol!
The entire crowd grumbles and the curtain falls.
NARRATOR: In the end, all members of this quarantine pod had violated social distancing guidelines, including trips to hair salons, Botox speakeasies, and navigating the purchase of black market sacrificial livestock. Their selfishness caused a major outbreak, overwhelming the small town hospitals of western Massachusetts. It is an unfortunate case of poetic injustice that the health care system suffered a similar fate as some Massachusettsans did three centuries earlier. One, crushed by the weight of unjust suspicion, the other crushed by the weight of robust transmission.